“I am hungry for Judy Fu’s smoked tea duck,” my aunt told me when I invited her for dinner on Mother’s Day. Judy and my aunt became friends after I took her to dinner at the Snappy Dragon restaurant a few times.
Tucked away on Roosevelt Way, the Snappy Dragon does not have a glamorous appearance. But you’ll be surprised when you Google the restaurant, it has over 30,000 listings.
We enjoy going to Judy’s for three reasons. At 71, Judy looks energetic and youthful. A Jill of all trades, she cooks, waits tables, washes dishes, and buses tables to help out in whatever way she can, even though she is the trademark of her restaurant. You don’t see many famous chefs doing odd jobs outside the kitchen.
Even on Mother’s Day, Judy worked.
There are some signature dishes you cannot eat elsewhere like the smoked tea duck, beef brisket, and home-made shaved noodles. I ordered one whole duck rather than a half duck so my aunt could take home the leftovers for her next dinner.
Snappy Dragon’s branding is remarkable. Many successful Asian restaurants know how to serve good food, but few know about branding. Judy and her son, David, who manages the restaurant, have branded themselves into one of the most recognizable eateries in Seattle. Judy even makes sauces such as peanut and hot sauces to sell to customers. She was the first to start a Chinese dumpling bar in Washington state and delivery service in the North end. ♦
I wish the food at Snappy Dragon was as good as her cooking used to be at the now-gone Jong Yen Lo in Lake City. Her dumplings and noodles are still good but she no longer offers Lamb Hunan and the eggplant has a sauce that’s too ketchupy and gloppy.
One of the former Jong Yen Lo employees, Amy, and her brother, Lee, who worked at China North opened China Village (now Uncle Lee’s) near U-Village back in the late ’80s. Unfortunately, their food has declined a bit, too.